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Placer boys edge Center in PVL opener

By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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The Hillmen held on.

Peter Kean drilled two foul shots with 3.3 seconds to go and Placer squeaked out a 60-57 victory at Earl Crabbe Gym Thursday night in a Pioneer Valley League opener.

The Hillmen (14-4, 1-0) led 44-34 late in the third quarter, but Center (5-11, 0-1) rallied in the fourth when Placer coach Mark Lee was forced to send Isaiah Pineiro back to the bench because of foul trouble.

Placer led 47-38 when Pineiro picked up his fourth foul of the contest with 6:40 to go. Four minutes later, the Cougars had trimmed the Hillmen’s lead to 56-55.

“They played hard, we played hard,” said Kean, who scored 13 points on the night. “… They went on a run, we were able to stop it though.”

Pineiro, who had 13 points on the night and sat out the second quarter, exited the game with 2:22 remaining.

Not much separated the two teams in the first two quarters. The Hillmen went into the break with a slim 25-23 advantage.

Trailing 57-56 with 18.6 seconds to go, Brennen Entz knocked down two charity shots to give the Hillmen the lead for good.

Other than Entz’s and Kean’s late pair of made free throws, Placer had a pretty bad night from the line shooting just 15 of 27.

“We didn’t shoot well from the line,” said Lee, who added his team’s average is near 70 percent. “It was one of our worst shooting nights from the free throw line and we still got the win. So I’m very happy.

“… In league you’ve got to shoot much better than that.”

With Pineiro spending more time on the bench than usual, Placer got significant scoring contributions from Michael McNamara (12 points), Andrew Dahlin (8) and Grant McElvain (8).

McElvain was also asked to play a bigger role in defending Center’s post players.  

Isaiah Jones, a 6-foot-9 center, had team-high 13 points for Center, and 6-10 Donald Mims and Xavier Howell added 10 points apiece.

A tall, athletic squad, Center’s players put on a pretty sweet aerial show of dunks. The team, however, failed to convert on two slams, which could have been the deciding points in the game.

Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel